Varied works, each written within the past year, by three UC Irvine faculty composers revealed a broad mix of simple tonality and atonality Monday night at the Fine Arts Concert Hall on campus. The presentation provided sporadic interest mingled with more routine, unadventurous moments.
The evening's only premiere, Bernard Gilmore's "La Folia" for solo violin, juxtaposes snippets from various settings by Frescobaldi, Marais and others of the popular 17th-Century dance in the title, creating an eclectic collage. Sustained, soul-searching passages comment between the quotes, finally transforming into an engagingly grotesque dance of their own, far removed from the original theme.
A careful blend of idiomatic writing and detail, Gilmore's music never sits still stylistically, but fits together lucidly, though not always with convincing originality. Violinist Haroutune Bedelian gave the piece superb attention, seamlessly moving from one remote idea to the other.
Four green-gowned members of the Terry Lewis Dance Ensemble swooned and swayed to Paul Hodgins' electronic score "At Delphi," a generally understated, spooky setting of an ancient Greek ritual involving a virgin under the intoxicating effect of laurel leaves. Blunt choreography gives the piece a mild feminist theme, though the overall attempts to be more ecstatic than intellectual do not always achieve the pagan sensibility intended.
John Gerhold's "For Paula," a four-part tonal cycle for soprano, oboe and piano, sets stream-of-consciousness texts by the composer expressing his various feelings towards taking care of his 2-year-old daughter. The overt simplicity of the music and words proved cloying, projecting the joy and other emotions of fatherhood but not with a satisfactory level of sophistication.
Opening the evening, pianists Betty Oberacker and Kary Kramer, a professor of music and a student at UC Santa Barbara respectively, delivered a lecture-recital of piano music by faculty composers from seven different UC campuses. Although their intentions were laudable, the presentation proceeded woodenly, touting each composer without much depth, using information too technical for the layman, too cursory and incomplete for the scholar.